There is an interesting decision out of the King County Bar Association after the bar grappled with questions from lawyers as to whether they can smoke marijuana after the state legalized pot despite that the fact that it is still deemed a crime under federal law. The bar associate said that the ethical lawyer could smoke pot so long as it did not interfere with their ability to represent clients. While some would question that standard, the same personal responsibility on consumption applies to alcohol use by lawyers.
The implementation date for marijuana legalization is December 1. Accordingly, the bar gave expedited consideration to the matter and concluded that “an attorney who personally uses marijuana as permitted under state law would not be subject
to discipline only for that reason.” New Rule 8.6 however may be the most interesting language of the change:
New Rule 8.6
Notwithstanding any other provision of these rules, a lawyer shall not be in violation of these rules or subject to discipline for engaging in conduct, or for counseling or assisting a client to engage in conduct, that by virtue of a specific provision of Washington state law and implementing regulations is either (a) permitted, or (b) within an affirmative defense to prosecution under state criminal law, solely because that same conduct, standing alone, may violate federal law.
That ruling should please those who still support federalism principles. This has been a long simmering dispute with the Bush and Obama Administration over issues ranging from assisted suicide to medical marijuana to now legalization. The Justice Department recently decided that it would not move to preempt the state laws and would reconfigure enforcement policies to reduce conflicts with states like Colorado and Washington as well as nineteen states and the District of Columbia that allow some legal use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes.
The bar clearly ignored the view of experts in this very educational film:
Here is the bar decision: kcba_rpc_proposal_100413